As Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev expressed willingness to meet in Moscow to discuss the ongoing war in Artsakh, the foreign ministers of the two countries are set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington this Friday. Today, the UN Security Council is also set to have a closed-door meeting to discuss the ongoing war in Artsakh at the request of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries of Russia, France and the U.S.
It remains to be seen if diplomacy will help put an end to the bloodshed that is taking place as battles continue, primarily in the north and south of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict zone.
During a press conference in Yerevan, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s Representative to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said that, following the dissemination of videos showing how Armenian prisoners of war are being shot, beheaded and how dead bodies of Armenian soldiers are being maltreated by Azerbaijani Armed Forces, Armenia applied to the ECtHR on October 18. Similar horrific instances also took place during the 2016 Four Day April War.
Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, during a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, said that while there are disputed territories between member states of the CoE, regardless of politics, “people who live there are entitled to the same human rights, democracy and rule of law standards as any other European. National authorities have an obligation to ensure this. And the Council of Europe should have unhindered access to those territories, so that we can assess the situation and provide what assistance we can.”
Here is a chronology of official updates.
The Women of Artsakh
Irina Safaryan was born in a bunker during the First Karabakh War. Today, she is in Yerevan helping and assisting the women of Artsakh who were forced to flee the war launched by Azerbaijan a month ago. Leaving behind fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and their homes and lives, they are now holding rallies and protests in front of embassies and international organizations in Armenia’s capital demanding to be heard, demanding action, demanding the world’s condemnation. Irina is not only on the front lines with these women, she is one of the organizers.Read more
PM Pashinyan: We Can Succeed If We Focus Our National Potential and Commit to It Selflessly
6 a.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
1. What is this war for? For the status of Karabakh.
2. Could we have avoided this war? Yes, if we handed over the territories and agreed to the uncertain status of Karabakh for an indefinite period of time and in the absence of a mechanism to decide that status.
3. Could we have reached an acceptable or any status for Karabakh through negotiations? No, because the last opportunity to do that was in 2011 in Kazan.
4. Can we stop this war? Theoretically yes, with a slightly worse outcome than the one mentioned in point two.
5. Can the war solve the status of Karabakh? Yes, if we succeed in the war.
6. Can we succeed in the war? Yes, if we focus the national potential on that goal and commit to it sincerely and selflessly.
8:40 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, the situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijani conflict zone overnight was tense but relatively stable. Artillery battles continued in some areas.
This morning, despite the agreement reached on a humanitarian truce, Azerbaijani forces resumed artillery shelling in the northern and southern directions.
The units of the Artsakh Defense Army took appropriate actions to silence Azerbaijani firing points, keeping the operative situation under control.
Azerbaijani Forces Opened Fire Towards Peaceful Settlements Overnight
10:30 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations announced that, on the night of October 18-19, Azerbaijan once again violated the ceasefire agreement, opening fire toward the peaceful settlements of Artsakh and targeting civilian settlements. The city of Martuni and Urekan, Ishkhanadzor, Aygehovit and Vurgavan communities of the Kashatagh region came under Azerbaijani shelling. Details about the casualties and damage are being clarified.
Women of Artsakh Hold Rally at UN Building in Yerevan
11 a.m.: A group of mothers and their children from Artsakh, who were forced to flee the incessant shelling and bombing of their towns and villages by Azerbaijani forces held a rally in front of the UN building in Yerevan. They were demanding that the global agency not turn a blind eye to their plight and act on their stated principle of not leaving anyone behind. Article 2 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights asserts that everyone is entitled to their human rights, including the right to life, regardless of whether the state they live in is recognized or not. They were joined by thousands of people in Yerevan demanding that the UN take action.
12 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan wrote the following on her Facebook Page: Heavy fighting continues in the southern direction. The units of the Defense Army are “wearing out” Azerbaijani forces.
Foreign Ministry: Azerbaijan Once Again Demonstrates Its Unwillingness to Adhere to Its Commitments
12:10 p.m.: The following statement was issued by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia regarding the breakdown of a humanitarian truce.
“On October 17, the Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously issued a statement on the declaration of a humanitarian truce, which was achieved through the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and through the personal mediation of the President of France.
“However, as in the previous time, when an agreement was reached in Moscow, Azerbaijan once again demonstrated its total absence of willingness to adhere to its commitments.
“All this was accompanied by statements of the representatives of the Azerbaijani political and military leadership that Azerbaijan will not cease the hostilities until the ‘victorious end’ of the war. Notably, similar statements were made in Turkey.
“Minutes after the announcement of the humanitarian truce, the Azerbaijani armed forces resumed hostilities, and on the morning of October 18 launched a large-scale offensive on the southern front.
“In fact, this is the second ceasefire agreement that Azerbaijan does not want or is unable to implement, at the same time deceiving the international community and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, in particular.
“We remain faithful to commitments set out in the Moscow Joint Statement of October 10 and the Statement of October 17, with the primary goal of establishing a sustainable ceasefire maintained through verification mechanisms.
“In this respect, we reiterate those statements, which gave a practical expression to the statement of the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries on October 1, as well as to the statement of Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair countries on October 5.
“We are committed to a settlement exclusively through peaceful means – through the negotiation process.
“By adhering to the agreements reached, the Republic of Armenia maintains its right to undertake all necessary measures to resolutely reject Azerbaijan’s intention to resolve the conflict by military means.”
Humanitarian Aid From Los Angeles Arrives in Yerevan
12:50 p.m.: The Head of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund, Haykak Arshamyan, announced in a Facebook post that a plane filled with 40 tons of humanitarian aid arrived in Armenia from LA. The flight was scheduled for October 15 with Qatar Airways but did not take place because Turkey refused to provide its airspace for the transportation of humanitarian cargo to Armenia.
Armenia Applies to ECtHR Over War Crimes Committed by Azerbaijani Forces
3 p.m.: During a press conference, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s Representative to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), said that following the dissemination of videos showing how Armenian prisoners of war are being shot, beheaded and how dead bodies of Armenian soldiers are being maltreated by Azerbaijani Armed Forces, Armenia applied to the ECtHR on October 18. All of these acts are clear violations of international humanitarian law, Kirakosyan said explaining that the Armenian side requested the Court to expand the scope of the interim measures against Azerbaijan, so that it not only applies to targeting civilian population and settlements but to anyone who is under Azerbaijani control.
3:10 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan announced that the statement issued by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan that Armenia is allegedly targeting the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline is untrue.
4:45 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has released the names of another 19 Armenian servicemen killed in battle.
Abrahamyan, Tatul [Gagiki], b. 2001
Babayan, Rafik [Armeni], b. 2001
Sargsyan, Mayis [Kolyai], b. 1991
Poghosyan, Artem [Henriki], b. 1982 (reservist)
Hakobyan, Areg [Ashoti], b. 1977 (reservist)
Antonyan, Artyom [Vladimiri], b. 1978 (reservist)
Melikyan, Narek [Sargsi], b. 1995
Nazaryan, Tigran [Samveli], b. 2001
Marukyan, Eduard [Gevorgi], b. 2001
Hajikyan, Eric [Sargsi], b. 2001
Mantashyan, Hakob [Arseni], b. 2001
Harutyunyan, Tigran [Zhorayi], b. 1999
Harutyunyan, Marlen [Artushi], b. 1999
Khachatryan, Hayk [Gagiki], b. 1986
Keshishyan, Artyom [Vazgeni], b. 1991
Ghazaryan, Arthur [Norayri], b. 1976 (reservist)
Khachatryan, Hovhannes [Arshavir], b. 1983
Sargsyan, Artyom [Noriki], b. 1981
Zakaryan, Sedrak [Arevshati], b. 1980
5:15 p.m.: The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh announced that, following Azerbaijani missile strikes on the town of Martuni on October 17, 65-year-old Vladimir Mirzoyan was killed and 42-year-old Gevorg Vardanyan was wounded.
Pashinyan and Aliyev Agree to Meet in Moscow
In an interview to the Russian news agency Tass, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said they are prepared for any contacts with Yerevan and are ready to meet in Moscow “or any other place to end the conflict and reach a settlement.” The Azerbaijani President said that he supports the basic principles of the proposed settlement that includes the withdrawal of Armenian forces from districts around Karabakh, negotiations on the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the return of IDPs.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also gave an interview to Tass where he expressed readiness to go to Moscow and meet with Ilham Aliyev for negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinyan said that the conflict must be resolved exclusively through peaceful means but that Azerbaijan does not agree with this position. He said that he is ready to make all necessary efforts to achieve this result, including going to meet and discuss. Pashinyan noted that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be based on a compromise and not on the capitulation of one side. He said that if they don’t seed that readiness on the part of Azerbaijan then “we are ready to fight to the end for the rights of our people, for the rights of our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Lavrov Discusses Nagorno-Karabakh Issue With Secretary-General of the Council of Europe
5:30 p.m.: During a press briefing with the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the situation in Nagorno Karabakh and stressed that confrontational rhetoric between the parties as well as among international actors should be stopped. Lavrov went on to say that cessation of hostilities is the next important step and that the parties should cease shelling civilian settlements, fulfill the requirements mentioned in the statement by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries as well as the requirements of the October 10 humanitarian ceasefire agreement.
The Russian Foreign Minister noted that, in order for the ceasefire to hold, it is necessary to create and establish mechanisms for monitoring compliance with the ceasefire regime. “We are actively working on this, including with the participation of the Russian Ministry of Defense, with colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia. I hope that such a mechanism will be agreed upon in the very near future,” added Lavrov.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said battles continued from early this morning. Azerbaijani forces launched offensives in the southern and northern directions and were pushed back in the northern direction. Heavy battles continued in the southern direction for quite a long period, but according to Hovhannisyan, the military positions of both sides did not change significantly. At the moment, the intensity of battles has decreased.
Hovhannisyan said that each war has its symbols and from the very first days of the hostilities, Albert Hovhannisyan, who was posthumously awarded the “Medal of Courage,” has become one of the symbols of this war and his name has become very dear to everyone. Following his remarks, Hovhannisyan invited Artak Hovhannisyan, Albert’s father, to say a few words.
“Dear compatriots, dear diasporan Armenians. My call is that all of us need to stand next to our army and we need to help with everything we can so that our children do not become martyred heroes but heroes who live among us. My call is for everyone to help our army, our country, our foundation. I also want to say that we do not help or inspire our soldiers by listening to patriotic songs and driving around the city. We all need to stand next to them and we have to be next to them. Thank you.”
More Mercenaries Sent to the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Zone
According to Ria Novosti, an additional 1,000 mercenaries were sent to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on October 16. Earlier, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in an interview that Turkey is using terrorists from Syria and other countries in the region to help Baku. Ankara categorically denies these claims.
The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, also reported that hundreds, even thousands of mercenaries of international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East are actively moving into the conflict zone.
People in Disputed Territories are Entitled to the Same Human Rights
Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who is in Moscow on an official visit, delivered a speech at Moscow State Institute for International Relations, during which she spoke about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“The Council of Europe does not have a mandate to resolve the situation: conflict and territorial dispute resolution are not within our mandate. But both Armenia and Azerbaijan are Council of Europe member states. Both made a commitment to our Organisation to resolve their conflict by peaceful means. And both have an obligation to uphold the European Convention on Human Rights.
“In recent weeks, I have called repeatedly for all sides directly or indirectly involved to stop targeting civilians, to avoid further escalation, and to seek a peaceful resolution in line with the OSCE’s Minsk Group mediation, and their obligations under international law. Respect for human rights in the territory is vital, and a legal obligation. This raises a broader problem.
“There still exists today several so-called ‘grey zones’ or disputed territories between Council of Europe member states. Regardless of the politics, the people who live there are entitled to the same human rights, democracy and rule of law standards as any other European. National authorities have an obligation to ensure this. And the Council of Europe should have unhindered access to those territories, so that we can assess the situation and provide what assistance we can. This is not the case today, and I have made addressing this problem a priority for my mandate.”
10:25 p.m.: Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan tweeted about a briefing for diplomatic corps accredited in Armenia on the situation in Artsakh.
#Armenia FM @ZMnatsakanyan, #Artsakh FM Masis Mayilian, @ArtsakhOmbuds & @OmbudsArmenia briefed diplomatic corps accredited in #Yerevan on situation in Artsakh in result of #Azerbaijan‘s aggression.Two Ombuds presented detailed report on AZE violation of intl law#ArtsakhIsStrong pic.twitter.com/fpbRBLvawH
— Anna A. Naghdalyan (@naghdalyan) October 19, 2020
UN Security Council to Meet on Nagorno-Karabakh
The UN Security Council will meet for closed discussion of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on October 19, at initiative of the three Minsk Group co-Chairs, France, Russia and U.S.
The foreign affairs ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are also scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday, October 23.
Paris Mayor: If Recognition of Artsakh is Necessary, We Should Not Hesitate
In an interview with Nouvelles d`Armenie, Ann Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris said that if the recognition of Artsakh is the only solution to the current conflict, then “we should not hesitate.” She went on to say that the Foreign Ministry believes that only the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs can allow a return to peace and security and that she does not want to hinder the efforts of France to find a peaceful solution. Hidalgo stressed that the goal should be to ensure that people in Nagorno Karabakh have a secure and stable life as in Armenia. “As an individual, I am in favor of self-determination, Armenia must be supported in this struggle,” she added.
Lena Nazaryan, Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly responded to Hidalgo’s comments:
“Dear Mrs Anne Hidalgo,
“Here I am sending you the deepest request of all Armenians to initiate the process of recognition of the Republic of Artsakh from the Paris City Council.
“I’m sure this action will have a channel effect giving rise to other initiatives for which we will be forever grateful. France and the French have always reached out to Armenians, our respective peoples have always had warm bonds and have a special friendship for each other. I therefore ask you to act now, to act without delay, in the name of freedom, our brotherhood, justice, in the name of the inseparable friendship of Armenia and France.”
12 a.m.: Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, Arman Tatoyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
“Today, the Human Rights Defender received an alarming call certifying that Azerbaijani military forces beheaded an Armenian soldier several days ago.
“The initiated proceedings have revealed the following data:
“On 16 October, at around 1 p.m. a member of the Azerbaijani armed forces called the brother of an Armenian soldier and said that his brother is with them; they beheaded him and were going to post his photo on the Internet. Afterwards, several hours later, the brother found the photo on his killed brother’s social media page.
“It seems that these were members of the Azerbaijani Army who posted the Armenian solder’s photo on his social media page. There were two phone calls with Azerbaijani soldiers who used hate speech with intention to humiliate the Armenian killed soldier’s brother. As the latter informed the Human Rights Defender, the calls were made from the Armenian soldier’s phone number.
“These are cruel and terroristic methods. The Human Rights Defender of Armenia has recorded other cases of torture and atrocities; these activities are ongoing.
“All data is duly documented and will be presented to relevant international bodies.
“Perpetrators of such criminal actions should be punished by all means of international criminal law.”
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan Had a Phone Conversation With Josep Borrell
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan held a phone conversation with Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission.
The Minister briefed Borell about the situation in Artsakh, the damage caused to the civilian population and civilian infrastructure, the use of internationally-banned weapons by the Azerbaijani forces as well as the large number of people that were displaced as a result of recent atrocities. Mnatsakanyan stressed that Azerbaijan tortures, murders and employs humiliating treatment towards the civilian population of Artsakh and prisoners of war.
Speaking about the October 17 agreement on the establishment of a humanitarian truce in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and the ensuing situation, the Foreign Minister told the High Representative that Azerbaijan does not want to give up its strategy of military aggression against Artsakh and resolve the issue through military means.
The Foreign Minister of Armenia noted that this aggression of Azerbaijan is carried out with the direct involvement of Turkey, which is expressed in the deployment of foreign terrorist fighters by the latter, a serious threat to regional and international security.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan expressed deep concern over the vague position expressed by some actors of the international community, emphasizing that such policy is viewed by Azerbaijan as a green light to continue its aggression accompanied by violations of international law.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan Had Phone Conversations With French and Canadian Counterparts
The Foreign Ministers of Armenia and France held a phone conversation. The two discussed the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone after the October 17 agreement on the humanitarian truce was reached. Mnatsakanyan stressed that he appreciates the contribution of France and President Macron and noted that the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan once again refused to implement its commitment and continues the large-scale military aggression against Artsakh.
Minister Mnatsakanyan also held a phone conversation with the Foreign Minister of Canada, François-Philippe Champagne. Mnatsakanyan emphasized that the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan, including the continuous targeting of the civilian population and infrastructure of Artsakh, the shelling of cultural monuments, as well as inhuman attitude towards Armenian prisoners of war, are unacceptable.
The Foreign Minister of Armenia reiterated Armenia’s position on strengthening the ceasefire regime and pursuing a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Minister Champagne stressed the need to maintain and implement the October 17 agreement as well as to introduce the respective verification mechanisms. Expressing his support for the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, the Canadian Foreign Minister stressed the need for non-interference of the external regional players in the conflict.
Resolution to Remove Turkey from NATO
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), introduced a resolution calling for the U.S. to work with allies in removing Turkey from NATO. The resolution condemns Turkey’s attacks on U.S. forces and allies and Turkey’s continued support for terrorist organizations. Below are the resolution clauses that address Turkey’s hostility and aggression against Armenians:
Whereas Turkey has escalated its involvement in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh, previously offering political support for Azerbaijan’s position, but now providing direct military support;
Whereas Turkey maintains a closed border with the Republic of Armenia, a country with friendly relations with the United States, and has repeatedly issued threats against the Republic of Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, and Armenian communities in other parts of the world, at times thinly veiling its threats with references to the genocide of Armenians in Turkey that took place in the early 20th century;
Whereas reports indicate that Turkey has sent Syrian fighters, many of whom have been associated with Al Qaeda and ISIS, to fight against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh;
Whereas it has been reported that Turkey has participated in or taken outright control of Azerbaijan’s air command and military offensive against Nagorno Karabakh and that its F–16 fighters have been engaged in attacks against both Nagorno Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia;
Whereas NATO has called for the immediate cease-fire to hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh in response to Azerbaijan’s military attack on Nagorno Karabakh while Turkey has contradicted NATO’s position by publicly supporting and assisting with Azerbaijan’s continued military aggression.
Now, therefore, be it resolved,
That the House of Representatives
(1) strongly condemns Turkey’s attacks on United States forces, allies, and partners including the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces;
(2) demands the end of Turkey’s support of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and others; and
(3) calls on the President to work with NATO to create the necessary process to remove Turkey from NATO.
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